BANGALORE: In an attempt to spread awareness on the importance of water and harmful effects of fluoride toxicity, Arghyam, a non profit organisation, created an online platform called Schools Water Portal. The nationwide programme engaged students and teachers from all over the country in a quality testing, analysis and reporting exercise.
This water quality testing programme was an experiment using the Internet to sensitise school children on the widely prevalent problem of fluoride contamination in drinking water.
“Well, this is an extremely serious issue. Today, water contamination has reached newer heights. Over 6.6 crore people have been affected in almost 19 states of India. In fact, skeletal fluorosis has claimed several lives in Nalgonda, Andhra Pradesh. The initiative was started in December with an aim to create awareness on water quality issues and contamination. We partnered with Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and Delhi Public School. The programme was conducted in 1,339 schools in the country. As part of this initiative, fluoride testing kits were provided to these schools. Both teachers and students showed immense appreciation for the programme,” said Priya Desai from Arghyam.
More than 20,000 students across India learnt about the harmful effects of fluoride and the resulting health implications of fluorosis.
A fluoride testing kit was sent to each school, and instructions on using the kit, collecting groundwater samples and testing for fluoride were put up on the Schools Water Portal.
Teachers could access learning resources like presentations and fact sheets on fluoride and fluorosis on the portal, which they used in their classrooms to complement the water testing exercise.
The results were then submitted online enabling a decentralised data collection. “The feedback we received was extremely positive. Students enjoyed conducting these experiments. It was a good learning experience for them,” Priya added.
Several schools from Bangalore and across the state participated in the exercise effectively understanding the concept of water pollution. It is a serious issue that the nation is grappling with today.
Nisha Saxena of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Allahabad, arranged for a talk by an expert on fl uoride contamination. in the school. Kendriya Vidyalaya, Mangalore, created a blog showing their participation in the programme while another teacher Naveen Verma shared pictures of his class performing a skit on the fl uoride issue with some students reciting poems and enacting a mime for the school.
This water quality testing programme was an experiment using the Internet to sensitise school children on the widely prevalent issue of presence of fluorides in drinking water.
It is problem that affl icts nearly 6.6 crore people in 19 states of India (facts based on the UNICEF State of Art Report Report 1999; FR & RDF Data Bank).